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Embracing legal automation

Embracing legal automation

There’s no hiding it, the legal technology revolution is (finally) here, writes Ed Pullen.

Believe us, we know all too well that the emergence of tech can feel daunting and incredibly confusing, but you don’t need to worry. Just like the robots haven’t taken our jobs, they’re not going to take yours. What legal automation will do is completely change the game for you and your legal team.

For the marketers, it all began back in 1992. Although it wasn’t until the middle of the 2000s that the marketing automation industry started taking shape, and it hasn’t slowed down since. In fact, the marketing automation market is predicted to be worth $7.63 billion by 2025, so it’s clearly not going anywhere.

But it’s not only marketing that has seen this level of tech transformation, every department has been through it, from finance (Xero, MYOB) to sales (Salesforce, Oracle), human resources (Workday, Culture Amp) and the list goes on. It’s now time for legal to join the party.

Having run marketing transformation projects for a number of organisations, I thought I would help demystify what is actually required to implement technology and then ultimately drive success. Many of the same principles apply regardless of what team you’re in.

Here are 7 things Marketing can teach Legal about successfully implementing Legal Technology and Automation:

1. Combining a stack of cheaper, problem-specific solutions isn’t the answer

Don’t get me wrong, it can be good to get in the game by testing your approach with some of the smaller tools to solve simple challenges in your early days, but if you’re larger than a one-person band you’ll inevitably outgrow your bootstrapped stack very quickly. This means you won’t be impacting your team and the business as much as you need to.

The second major issue with this approach is that by trying to juggle data pulled from a series of individual tools you’ll inevitably end up leaving a huge amount of valuable insights on the table as you manually stitch it all together.

2. Build the business case before you go chasing vendors

Even if you think you’ve got all the right information, you’ve spoken to all of your peers and read the latest blogs that say legal automation is the saviour… the business might not think the same way. Build a business case, get your facts in order and ensure the project is on the radar of those responsible for final sign off.

There is nothing worse than doing all the work only to have your dream shattered by the procurement team who decide (on signing day) that they can find you something ‘cheaper and more effective’.

3. Ensure you have the right team to roll it out

Unfortunately, the reality of tech is that it’s complex. No matter what your vendors are telling you, it’ll be challenging to implement. The setup, configuration, integration, workflows, automation rules, templates… there’s a lot to get right. So, you need the right team and there are 3 distinct options:

a. An internal team who has been through an automation implementation before and know how to get things set-up in the right way (though you wear all the risk so ensure it’s an all-star team)

b. Ensure your chosen vendor has a team that can do the bulk (if not all) of the heavy lifting for you. This might be slightly more expensive but what’s the ultimate cost if you stuff this up trying to save a few pennies? Get to first value as fast as humanly possible and if that means having the vendor build it… then do it.

c. Work with a 3rd party team or consultant. They are often a little more flexible and can act as an extension of your team. The thing to be cautious of here is how they charge. You don’t want to get into a position where additional “small tweaks” end up costing you big bucks.

4. You’re never going to ‘finish it’

It’s easy to think “yeah, when I’ve plugged this thing in, I can sit back and watch my performance 10x”. Sadly, this isn’t the case. You’ll see some serious improvement, and likely very quickly, however, it’s about how much you embrace and engrain user adoption of the platform that will make things really fly.

Especially in those early days. It’s critical to continually review your platform data and use that to drive iterative improvements. As you build momentum and the platform starts becoming ingrained, you’ll be able to scale it and add more horsepower. Adding more functionality, adding additional apps and tools that will continue to improve your team’s performance. This is where the real magic happens.

5. Choose the right tech for your team

Figure out what your team actually needs. Clearly define your challenges and work to find a platform that has the features and functionality you require to get the job done. It’s important to consider your budget, your business strategy and what you envisage needing in the short, medium and long term.

What you shouldn’t do is get pushed into a cheaper tool (because procurement said so), take advice from someone who “swears by” specific tools or something your CEO has read about in the back of a Qantas magazine. Understand what you and your team needs and run the right process to find the right fit.

Bonus tip: Ensure you’re reviewing or even contacting business’ that are using the tech you’re leaning towards. Happy customers are a good sign that the tech actually works.

6. It’s all about the repetitions

It’s an oldie but a goodie: “your tech is only as good as the people using it” ... so make the people use it! It’s critical to the success of your shiny new tech that the business uses it effectively. This is often a forgotten phase of implementation projects so don’t make that mistake. Ensure users are given all the tools and support they’ll need to be successful.

Chances are, they won’t get it right the first time so have steps in place for continual refreshers, updates and metrics to show them how their input is impacting performance.

7. Read, watch, listen, learn

The final one is pretty simple. Just take in as much as you can before kicking off your search, during your purchase journey and throughout your rollout. You’re not the first person to go through this so learn from those who have. There are mountains of blogs, videos, eBooks and guides out there to help you get it right and achieve exceptional results through automation.

Good luck.

Ed Pullen is the marketing director at Legal Gateway | Plexus.

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